Emma Watson Recalls Nearly Quitting ‘Harry Potter’

'I would have been public enemy #1,' 'Deathly Hallows' star says of backlash if she'd quit to pursue college.

Could someone other than Emma Watson have played Hermione Granger ? The mere thought likely gives devoted “Potter”-philes heart palpitations, but it became a distinct possibility when the actress’ contract came up for renewal in 2006 during production on “The Order of the Phoenix.”

Watson was firmly committed to continuing her education — not at Hogwarts but in the real world — and the schedule for the forthcoming “Potter” flicks simply wouldn’t allow her to pursue her studies. Dropping out of the franchise became a distinct possibility, as devastating to the fan community as that would have been.

“I would have been public enemy #1, I think, if I hadn’t continued,” Watson recently told MTV News. “I did think about that.

“I always try and make decisions in my life based on what’s right for me and I just try and be true to myself,” she added. “It was mainly to do with scheduling and I had a real fight on my hands to ensure that I was able to go to university and I was able to sit my A-levels, because the schedule they handed to me didn’t really allow for any of that and I just wasn’t prepared to let it go.”

From ’06 into the next year, rumors abounded that she would in fact drop out, forcing Warner Bros. to recast Hermione. But by the time filming on “Half-Blood Prince” kicked off in fall ’07, Watson was back on set. Why? The studio reconfigured the entire shoot.

“They essentially moved the ‘Harry Potter’ film schedule around my exam dates, which was amazing,” she told us. “It all worked out.”

Watson ended up enrolling at Brown University in Rhode Island and was subsequently able to shoot the two-part finale of “Deathly Hallows.”

“I feel very lucky,” she said. “Warner Bros. has been very supportive of me keeping this education thing going. I’m very grateful.”

Can you imagine another actress playing Hermione in the “Potter” franchise? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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